WASHINGTON, April 12, 2016 - President Obama’s $1-billion-a-year effort to improve farming and combat malnutrition in some of the world’s poorest countries will reach a critical milestone today. The House is set to pass legislation called the Global Food Security Act that would, for the first time, enshrine into law the Feed the Future initiative. 

Feed the Future, which is designed to improve food production and nutrition in 19 target countries, has never had congressional authorization although lawmakers have agreed to the president’s annual funding requests. 

The bill has been held up for about a year, in part because of concerns raised by House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and several commodity groups. Conaway wanted to be sure that USDA would have a major role in directing the initiative. A spokeswoman says he’s now supportive of the bill. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a similar measure last month. Both bills would require federal agencies to develop a global food security strategy and provide detailed reporting on Feed the Future’s impact.

Eric Munoz, a policy analyst for Oxfam America, said the legislation would ensure that all agencies with responsibility for agriculture development, including USAID and USDA, are working together on “common goals.”

The House bill would only authorize Feed the Future through fiscal 2017, but supporters believe it will be much easier to win an extension once the initiative is written into law. The Senate bill would authorize Feed the Future for two years. 

Cattle producers, crop insurers to lobby Hill. Members of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau are in Washington to talk about their priorities on Capitol Hill. 

Colin Woodall, NCBA’s vice president of government affairs, says his groups’ top priority will be lobbying for congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Cattlemen also will be talking about endangered species issues and President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act to remove additional public lands from grazing and other uses.

Members of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau will be urging lawmakers to leave the crop insurance program alone when the agriculture appropriations bill moves through the House and the Senate. The House version of the bill will be marked up Wednesday.

Senate panel targets EPA impact on farms, small business. Senate Republicans are keeping the heat on EPA. A Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee holds a hearing today that will focus on the impact of EPA regulations on small businesses. 

The witnesses will include the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau and Tom Sullivan, the former chief counsel for advocacy at the Small Business Administration. Sullivan is expected to talk about his frustration trying to get EPA to consider the views of the SBA advocacy office. 

Agri-Pulse’s Steve Davies says that EPA is supposed to conduct detailed analyses on the cost of proposed regulations on small businesses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) when those regulations are expected to significantly affect small businesses. But the meaning of "significant" is in the eye of the beholder. 

For the “waters of the U.S.” rule, for example, EPA said it did not need an RFA analysis, despite its own estimate that the rule would increase permit costs by as much as $52 million annually.

Vilsack recounts lack of farm experience to 4-Hers. 4-Hers from around the country are in the nation’s capital for the annual national conference, and yesterday they got to hear from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Vilsack’s personal story is very familiar in D.C., but Agri-Pulse’s Whitney Forman-Cook reports that he didn’t shy away from talking to his 4-H audience about his own lack of experience in agriculture when he was growing up.

“If my mom and dad were still alive today, and knew I was secretary of agriculture, they would think this country is in deep trouble,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack went on to recount how he had learned about the challenges of being a farmer by representing them as an attorney in Iowa in the 1980s. He said he gained “an enormous amount of respect for their care and concern about the land; their connection to the past generations of people who worked the land; their incredible pride in what they did and what they do.”

He said it. ”Australia’s taking our market access. They’re taking our money." - NCBA’s Colin Woodall on why cattle producers need Congress to approve the TPP.


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